by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
A colonised planet is decimated by an unknown source. As the only likely culprit appears to be the local fauna, a team of hunters is formed to head down to the planet to find and evacuate any survivors. They find out the hard way that they are not up against any ordinary foe, facing beasts of massive size and incredible powers. Welcome to Shear.
Evolve has gamers taking the role of one of four different Hunter classes or one of the three Monsters who inhabit Shear. The human classes are fairly standard, with the Assault class that deals out the firepower, the Medic class that heals teammates and the Support class that buffs teammates and calls in airstrikes. The Trapper class though is a little different in that they have access to a Trapping device that basically immobilises the Monster for a short period of time. Each playable character has their own little back-story that comes out as you play through the missions and each have their own humorous quips.
Fun they may be, it is the game’s bestiary that makes Evolve interesting. I must admit that although I’m not the best at playing the Monsters online, they've proven to be a heap of fun to play. The three Monsters, like the Hunters, have various skills which add to the replay factor but they also all have one thing in common – they evolve into greater forms of their character by feeding on prey. As they evolve, the Monsters receive improved health bars and superior abilities, so as a Hunter you’ll want to attack a Monster as soon as you can, before they get a chance to evolve. The Goliath could be considered the tank class of the Monsters as its abilities focus mainly on short range fighting. It can breathe fire, charge at Hunters and throw rocks at those attacking them and has the most armour of the three Monsters. The Kraken, on the other hand is the ranged class, using its tentacle-like appendages to attack from a distance, as well as creating lightning strikes. The Wraith is, for me anyway, the toughest of the Monsters to combat. It has much less armour than the other two, but moves much quicker and has the ability to warp instantly to other areas of the map allowing a quick getaway from foes.
Although multiplayer is the focus in Evolve, there is a single player mode that allows gamers to learn the ins-and-outs of the game prior to hitting the multiplayer modes. The simple tutorial runs through the controls for playing as a Monster and as a Hunter, some that are somewhat unique to Evolve, but are easy to pick up. Once the tutorial is finished with though, there is little else to keep you occupied apart from a number of one-off challenges and a five-mission Evacuation campaign.
The latter features five missions that give Evolve a brief story, but gameplay is the real feature here as it introduces the four game modes Hunt, Nest, Rescue and Defend. You take the role of either a monster or one of the hunters while the AI take the remaining places in the battle. The outcome of one mission in the Evacuation campaign affects the following missions. For example, one mission has the Hunters fending off a Monster attacking a power plant. If the Monster would win, the power plant would explode, causing noxious gases to escape into the atmosphere during the following mission and thus making it tougher for the hunters. It is a rather cool feature that does enable multiple playthroughs of the campaign.
The Evacuation mode, as mentioned, features each of the game modes in Evolve. Hunt, as its name suggests, requires Hunters to track down the Monster, or when playing as a Monster, to avoid the Hunters and evolve. The Nest mode is probably my favourite and requires Hunters to find and destroy a number of Monster eggs. If not destroyed in time, these eggs will themselves spawn into dangerous creatures. When playing as a Monster though, the aim is to protect these eggs until they hatch. Rescue mode has Hunters locating, reviving and then protecting survivors as they make their way to the rescue shuttle, whilst Monsters are tasked with killing as many colonists as possible. The Defend mode is the opposite of the Nest mode. In it, Hunters are tasked with defending a power generator from a Monster attack. On this occasion, the Monster has a horde of minions to help destroy the generator. Each of the games modes is enjoyable to play in their own right, but I did find that the Nest and Defend missions the most interesting.
Playing as a Monster is a change from the usual shooters. Balanced gameplay
AI bots do a reasonable job…only reasonable, though. Stuttering audio on the cut-scenes